It’s June and school is winding down. There is a familiar urgency in the air that encompasses the anxiety of finishing projects, final testing, and those last minute assignments that somehow must be squeezed into the schedule before another school year is “under wraps”. In addition, the rhythm of summer is beginning to beat, and new adventures are beckoning. Parents and students alike suddenly realize that it is not only the final month of school, it is almost time for camp to begin!
Green Acres Camp; that wonderful conglomeration of creativity, choices, friendship, and fun! A place where the phrases “new”, “I don’t know”, and “I’ve never tried that before” are welcomed. A place where taking risks and getting out of one’s comfort zone is encouraged. A place where learning occurs and relationships are formed. How exciting!
In order to prepare for this extraordinary experience, attitudes need to be adjusted. This camp requires a positive attitude and a quest for fun. Smiles and laughter will run rampant throughout the campus. Campers will be making new friends and reconnecting with unit buddies from the past. High fives and hugs will abound. It will be a summer of opportunities.
Parents can facilitate a smooth transition from school to camp by preparing the campers in advance.
-Relax. It’s camp. Your kids are probably going to get dirty. Allow them to wear clothes in which they are comfortable and can move freely. Consider stains badges of new experiences.
-Discuss the concepts of sharing, compromise, and disappointment. Campers have to take turns, be patient, and accept others’ ideas. Being first is not important, but having fun is. Talk about patience and flexibility. Your camper will be happier.
-Be organized. Arriving to camp without a bathing suit or a lunch can put a damper on a person’s day. Try to prepare backpacks the night before so if you are running late, everything will already be packed.
-Take an interest in your camper’s experiences. Ask about favorite activities, encourage new choices, and be positive. If your camper expresses insecurities or fears, acknowledge them, but provide some positive strategies to handle the situation. If it’s a serious concern, be sure to contact the unit leader or program director.
-Label everything. Each summer we accrue lunchboxes, goggles, and clothing without names. Labels help us to find rightful owners, and avoid frustration on the part of both parent and child.
-Pack an extra swim suit. Campers often swim more than once a day. It is difficult to put on a wet suit. Plastic bags for wet clothing are also helpful and keep other items in the backpack dry.
-Water bottles and sunscreen are staples at camp. The water bottles are kept in the unit and washed weekly. Sunscreen must be replenished regularly. Be sure to monitor your camper’s supply. You may want to invest in a rash guard to help prevent sunburn and pool shoes to help avoid sore toes.
-Communicate with the unit leaders. Confusion and frustration can be avoided if lines of communication are clear and open. Please email or call when you have a question. Staff will be happy to assist you. Please check the Family Handbook, which contains calendars and contact information; Face Book, emails, and SWAY. We do our best to keep in contact with families using social media.
The Green Acres staff is looking forward to meeting your children and will do whatever it takes to provide a fun and exciting summer experience. Enjoy the end of the school year. We will see you soon!
Green Acres; it’s the place to be!
- Lynn Camacho
It’s that time again; spring break is here (albeit a short one!) and your kids are just itching for something to do! Some of their friends have left town, some are busy with a spring break camp o an after school program, and your suggestion of spring cleaning is met with a less than enthusiastic response. What is a parent to do? Fortunately, the Maryland/DC area is brimming with activities that will appeal to a wide range of ages and interests.
For the wild adventurer of the family, you may be interested in GOAPE located in Rockville. Treetop obstacles challenge you to progress through the forest canopy using zip lines, swings, and “unique crossings”. Guaranteed to satisfy the thrill seeker! Website: GoApe
Want to go higher? How about a hot air balloon ride over Frederick? Most rides occur in the early morning hours, which might require an adjustment in your child’s schedule, but it is said to be well worth it. Some sunset rides may be available. Check out https://tailwindsoverfrederick.com for more information.
For the animal lover of the family, there are several places to get up close and personal. The National Aquarium in Baltimore, the Maryland Zoo, and the National Zoo are all favorite spots. You may want to check out the Catoctin Animal Preserve, or one of the other less known zoos. https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g28941-Activities-c48-Maryland.html
If horses are your thing, try visiting Assateague Island where the wild ponies roam, or enjoy horseback riding on the beach in Virginia. If that is a bit too far, you can always saddle up locally at a variety of stables in Rockville. https://www.yelp.com/search?cflt=horsebackriding&find_loc=Rockville%2C+MD
Theatre buffs may be interested in visiting Glen Echo Theatre or Imagination Stage. There are several spring break theatre camps that might be right up your child’s alley. Check out https://imaginationstage.org/ or https://pgtheater.com/schools/camps/spring/
Of course we have a plethora of museums in the area, from the Air and Space Museum to the KidsMuseum. Check out these recommendations by “Mommy Nearest” at https://www.mommynearest.com/edition/washington-dc/article/20-d-c-museums-every-family-should-visit
Still haven’t found an activity that tickles your fancy? Try using resources such as “The Washington Parent and Family Magazine, Bethesda Magazine and Washingtonian Magazine. Looking for a groupon or additional family outing ideas? Check out www.kidfriendlydc.com/tag/activity-rocket/
We hope you take advantage of the many wonderful things to see and do in your own backyard. You might want to reconnect with some Green Acres Camp friends and spend some time playing games or crafting while revisiting memories from last summer!
Green Acres; it’s the place to be!
It is a new year, and many of us have made a new year’s resolution. Generally, we are motivated and dedicated to that resolution for about two weeks, and then life gets in the way. Our enthusiasm for eating right, exercising, or keeping things neat falls to the bottom of our “to do” lists. This year, you might want to focus on being more mindful, of having a positive attitude about what is happening at the present moment, without judgement.
As with any new habit, practice and repetition is the key. It is important to make a conscious effort to incorporate mindfulness into your day, throughout the day. This requires a willingness to change attitudes and the routines to which we may be accustomed. Think about your own life and what may be interfering with your new goals.
Cell phones- These mini-computers have the ability to rule our lives. How often do you answer your phone while conversing with someone else? Is your phone a fixture on the dinner table? Do you walk down the street while talking or texting? Do you “multi-task” and use your phone while watching tv or playing a game with your kids? One way to be more mindful is to make a decision to turn off the phone or keep it in a purse and give that person or activity your undivided attention. A text or a call can be returned later. Before cell phones, people left messages or called again later.
Focus- When you are in the company of others, are you there in the moment? Are you intently listening to what is being said and a participant in the conversation, or are you lost in your mental “to do” list? Do you make eye contact with others, or do your eyes wander aimlessly? Are you focused on the speaker or texting to someone who is not there with you? Relationships are important, and connecting with others requires mindfulness. Focusing on the moment and what is happening in the present inspires others to respond to you authentically, and the relationship develops.
Self-Judgement- Sometimes we are just too hard on ourselves. We all have faults and negative experiences, but you will experience less stress and anxiety if you accept yourself as you are. Treat yourself the way you would treat someone you love. Think of a negative experience as a blessing to push you in a more positive direction. You can have an unfortunate moment, but that moment does not need to negatively influence the remainder of the day.
Research shows that mindfulness encourages you to be more aware of the decisions you are making, which, in turn, helps you to reach your goals and dreams. In addition, your physical well-being improves as you are calmer and more in control of your life. When you are mindful, you are a model for your children to be more mindful. For tips and ideas of how to become more mindful, or to teach your children about mindfulness, you may want to visit the following websites:
Green Acres Camp will be here before you know it! Plan to join us this summer!
We hope to see you at our Summer in the Snow event on Saturday, January 5th from 2:00-4:00 PM
Green Acres; it’s the place to be!
- Lynn Camacho
Teaching Positivity in a Sometimes Negative World
It is mid-September and we have all had a few weeks to adjust from our summer mode to our school and work routines. Some of us have embraced the change willingly, while others of us have dragged our feet, holding onto the last days of a more leisurely schedule. If you fall into the latter category, autumn might be a time of struggle, and it may require extra effort to greet the day with a positive attitude. Your children might be wrestling with the same difficulties. There are some strategies available that may help you and your children to have a more positive outlook on life.
Morning affirmations are one way to begin the day. There are a variety of methods to accomplish this, but the goal is to make oral statements that you and your child believe are true. For example, “I am a kind and honest person”, “I can run really fast”, or “I love singing in the car on the way to school”. These affirmations can be written as well. You may want to post them in locations where you will see them, such as on the bathroom mirror, the kitchen table or the door. Taking a few minutes each morning to focus on positive thoughts can set the tone for the rest of the day.
Taking a breath before reacting to something negative, and giving your mind a chance to decide how to respond can help determine your mood. Give yourself the opportunity to direct your thoughts. Rather than becoming angry at someone’s rude statement, stop and decide to not allow that person to control your emotions. You can model this for your child when something that could cause a negative reaction occurs, but you consciously choose to respond differently. For example, you burn the toast that you are making for breakfast. Typically you might yell, throw something, or even curse. In reality, is it that big of a deal? Take a breath and let it go. It’s a piece of toast. You might voice your frustration about burning it, but you can do it without anger. You can help your child do the same by talking through it with him/her. Help your child realize that annoying situations are just an irritation, but can be looked at in a more positive manner. It’s not always easy and requires a conscious effort.
Teaching kids how to be kind to others not only influences the positivity in their own lives, but it has a profound effect on those around them. Sharing, taking turns, and speaking politely are typical examples of ways that children are taught to be kind, but they can take a more active role such as volunteering at a shelter, helping an elderly neighbor, or inviting a shy classmate to play. One of my friends wrote inspirational messages on paper with her children and left them inside library books for others to find. Imagine a child opening a book and finding a message that says, “You are awesome!”
There are countless ways to teach positivity each day. You may want to check out some articles such as, http://www.momentsaday.com/10-activities-help-young-children-develop-a-positive-attitude/ or https://www.guideposts.org/better-living/positive-living/positive-thinking/positive-thinking-for-kids
During camp counselors strive to be positive role models for kids and to make their camp experiences positive ones each day. Let’s keep it going throughout the school year!
Green Acres; it’s the place to be!
-Lynn Camacho, Junior Camp Program Director
Giving Children Choices
Friendship, Fun, Creativity, and Choices! These are the four key words that constitute the philosophy of Green Acres Camp. On any given day, if you wander through the campus, you will find campers participating in a wide variety of activities. Campers have an opportunity to choose their workshops and afternoon activities. Summer Strummers (ukulele), Drones, Kitchen Chemistry, and Sports are just a few of the choices in Senior Camp. All junior campers take the five specials (music, art, woodworking, science, and sports) and then choose afternoon activities such as Rush and Dodge, Scavenger Hunt, Cooking, and Face Painting! If you have had the opportunity to visit on Parents’ Day, you were able to observe your child involved in decision making. If you were not able to make it, please check us out on Facebook to see photographs and slideshows of our campers in action!
Making choices is a skill that needs to be developed over time. Young children can choose which clothing they want to wear for the day, or items to include in their lunch. As they grow older, the choices become more detailed or sophisticated. Children may have input on vacation ideas or academic course choices in school. It is important to continue giving children choices as they grow so that they are accustomed to making independent decisions, rather than relying on peer pressure or an adult to decide for them.
Green Acres provides a safe environment for campers to make a choice, take a risk, and try something new. They know they will be supported by caring counselors who will encourage them to make decisions which may be different from those of their friends. It is our goal to help develop happy, confident, and independent individuals who are simultaneously having wonderful experiences at camp.
Green Acres: it’s the place to be!
The middle, the half-way mark, the beginning of the fourth week: whatever your term of choice, we have reached it at Green Acres Camp. It is hard to fathom that three weeks have passed so quickly, yet campers have accomplished a great deal. Walking around campus, it is simple to observe campers having fun. Smiles, giggles and laughter fill the classrooms. Kids and counselors play games, share stories, and joke with one another. The atmosphere is relaxed and happy.
Signs of friendship abound. Little ones hold hands as they walk to the playground, campers include one another in games, and kids read together during D.E.A.R. time. There is a sense of camaraderie noted in the unit cheers and songs. Good sportsmanship is for which teams strive to earn. Campers enjoy working together.
Creativity is another key word to describe Green Acres and one look at the activities and workshops provides evidence that the campers are using their imaginations to solve problems, create works of art, develop their skills, and express their individuality. Campers are encouraged to take risks and try new experiences on a daily basis. You may want to learn more by reading the article, “Fostering Creativity at Camp and in Life” by the American Camp Association at https://www.acacamps.org/resource-library/camping-magazine/fostering-creativity-camp-life.
There are three more weeks of camp left; time for some campers to begin and others to continue through week six: three more weeks of fun, friendship, creativity and choices.
Green Acres: it’s the place to be!
The second week of camp was full of such excitement it seemed to go by in a flash! Extra special activities included the “Fun Run”, where all participants felt a sense of accomplishment as they crossed the finish line and received their medals, our patriotic fourth of July parade, which was enjoyed by all of the units as they marched through the camp and waved to the many cheering parents, and the afternoon Indian dance assembly! Senior Camp competed in a giant game of Capture the Flag, and the GAC Cup, through which they learned answers to questions about many of the counselors. All of this was in addition to the daily specials, workshops, swimming, and activities!
This week, campers also learned more about one another and their counselors. They discovered who tells funny jokes, who can play the ukulele, and who is a great dancer. There were unit cheers and songs, and campers shared what they have in common with other campers. Friendships began to bloom.
One of the key words of Green Acres Camp is friendship, and counselors provide many opportunities for campers to learn how to make friends. Understanding how to share, learning how to have more than one friend, and developing trust are all skills that campers glean from daily experiences with their peers.
Parents also play a role in helping their child to nurture friendships. You may be interested in reading this article by Lena Aburdene Derhally, psychoanalyst and author of The Importance of Childhood Friendships and How to Nurture Them, which provides several suggestions for parents to help their children develop warm and positive friendships.
We are all familiar with the song lyrics, “Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other’s gold”.
We hope your child is talking about new friends that he/she has made at camp, and we encourage you to support them.
Green Acres: it’s the place to be!
We have to come to the end of our first fabulous week of camp. Laughter, gasps, and shrieks of delight have filled the air as campers have reunited with old friends, tried new activities, and marveled at the magic of John Hadfield, the star of our science assembly.
Green Acres Camp has always been a special place, where campers are the central focus. Each year staff comes together to brainstorm how to make the camp even better than the previous year, and the summer of 2018 is no exception. We have added exciting opportunities for campers in both junior and senior camp, such as Bee Bots, Drones, and playing the Yukulele! As you check out our newsletters, you will find photographs of campers in each unit involved in all types of workshops. Use the pictures as a springboard to ask your child about his/her experiences this week at camp!
One of the goals at Green Acres is to encourage campers to try something new. This might be taking a risk to make a new friend, trying an activity that they have never tried before, or choosing to go to a workshop without a best buddy. Each camper develops at his/her own rate and receives support and encouragement from the counselors at each step. New experiences are celebrated and the campers feel a sense of accomplishment when they try something that forces them out of their comfort zone. We encourage you as parents to support your children as they develop these skills.
In the article “Risk-Taking Can Lead to Growth” by Kristine Snow Millard, the author stresses the importance of taking risks.
“…Campers gain self-confidence when they realize they “don’t have to be successful in everything they try.”
Indeed, it’s “not how you’ve done it, or how well, but that you’ve tried it,” … Again, the staff are key. “Follow-through feeds campers’ souls,” she said. If a counselor processes a camper’s experience “in the moment,” the camper gets the message of “’I’m going to stick with you no matter what.’”
“It’s all about connection, all about relationships,” she said. “Being able to say, ‘that was awesome, you tried that, and you learned a lot, now you know what you can do differently,’” is a key to a counselor working with a camper, McMullan said.
“It’s so important that we try to create a community where everyone is valued for things they can do, and supported in things that are challenges.”
We hope this week is just the beginning of an incredible summer filled with choices, creativity, friendship, and fun!
Green Acres: it’s the place to be!
It’s May, and whether you are new to Green Acres camp or already part of our family, it’s time to prepare for the fun and excitement that awaits your camper this summer. Knowing what to expect will make the transition from school to camp a smooth one, and will enhance your child’s camp experience. We can’t wait to meet everyone!
Clothing: Camp is not the time to sport spanking new clothes, unless dirt, paint, and grass stains are your friends. Kids should feel free to take risks and try new activities, not worry about whether mom will get upset about stains. If you insist on purchasing new clothing, consider a rashguard to help prevent sunburn, an extra swimsuit, or a hat to wear on those sunny days. Please make sure you label your child’s belongings to help us keep belongings with their rightful owners.
Footwear: Your child will be very active throughout the day, and it is important that he/she wears comfortable shoes. Although sandals are cute, sneakers are the best choice as they will protect your child’s feet from scrapes, cuts, and uneven surfaces. Slip on shoes can be used to walk to and from the pool.
Lunch: Green Acres prides itself on being green. Make sure your child carries a reusable lunchbox and water bottle each day. Talk to your child about the importance of a nutritious lunch. Encourage him/her to help you pack it. You can find some new ideas at http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/family-meals
Sunscreen: Campers spend time both in and out of doors, and it is important for their skin to be protected from the sun’s harmful rays. Please make sure you apply sunscreen before camp, and send sunscreen with your child to camp for application after swimming. There are many opinions about the safest type of sunscreen for your child. Read about some ideas at the following website: http://www.livestrong.com/slideshow/1005303-30-safest-sunscreens-3-avoid/#slide=35. Students should also invest in a pair of goggles for swim lessons. Make sure you label them with a permanent marker.
Backpacks: When choosing a backpack for all of the needed summer items, think about the size of your child. Heavy backpacks can injure a child’s back and may cause a child to lose his/her balance. Look for a pack that is an appropriate size for your child to carry. Swimsuit(s), towel, sunscreen, extra clothing, lunch, and a water bottle should be able to fit into the pack. http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/learning/backpack.html#
The most important ingredient to pack is a positive attitude and sense of humor. Camp is an exciting experience that offers campers the opportunity to be creative, make choices, build friendships, and, of course, have fun! Encourage your child to be open to new friends, and to be kind to each other and the earth. Green Acres Camp; it’s the place to be!
February; the last month of winter and the month following January. January was fun. We had the chance to celebrate the New Year and greet the world with a clean slate. It was the time when many of us made a resolution. Well, how are you doing with that resolution? Is it time to restart, or is it time to make a new one?
February is the shortest month, and unfortunately, a month that is often filled with gray and dreary days. Sometimes we are greeted with snowstorms, and other times, just boring, bone chilling cold. So when there is no snow in which to play, what can you do to make February a happier month?
You may not realize that in addition to Ground Hog Day and Valentine’s Day, February holds many titles, such as National Wild Bird Feeding month, National Grapefruit Month, and National Snack Food Month. For some ideas on how to celebrate, you may want to visit https://www.thespruce.com/family-activities-to-enjoy-in-february-4134466.
Often the food we eat influences our response to the dreary weather. Munching on greens, citrus, and even chocolate can help to boost our attitude. Check out “15 Foods to Cure the Winter Blues” at https://www.livestrong.com/slideshow/1009407-15-foods-cure-winter-blues/ to learn what you can do to turn your boost your attitude.
Making crafts with your children can be a fun way to spread cheer. You can find 150 recipes, games, art projects, and, of course, valentines at https://www.pinterest.com/weekday3s/february-crafts-and-activities/?lp=true . Your kids will love creating something special with you.
You may want to get away from it all and visit some attractions close to home. Maryland offers many things to do, even in the month of February. Check out https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g28941-Activities-Maryland.html for all sorts of ideas.
We hope that you had the opportunity to celebrate Green Acres Camp at our “Summer in the Snow” event in January. February brings us one month closer to the beginning of camp for another season of fun. Find some ways to beat the February blues and before you know it, we’ll be wishing for a brief blast of winter chill as we melt in 90 degree summer heat!
Green Acres Camp; it’s the place to be!
- Lynn Camacho
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